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US Women's Cycling Development Program diary

Photo ©: Jon Devich

The US Women's Cycling Development program was founded by former pro rider, Michael Engleman, as a way to help promising young women cyclists reach their full potential as athletes. The USWCDP networks current and former women pro riders with up and coming athletes through mentoring and coaching.

With experienced mentors like Olympians Dede Barry and Mari Holden, along with current pros Amber Neben, Tina Pic, Kim Anderson and others, the USWCDP helps young riders like Mara Abbott, Katharine Carroll and many more to race better, find teams and become professional bike racers. The dedicated and well spoken women of this program provide thoughtful, compelling and sometimes hilarious anecdotes of their experiences in this diary.

For further reading about the program, visit the USWCDP website

Index to all entries

August 24, 2007

Rebecca returns

By Rebecca Much

Well I'm back from falling off the face of the planet and it sure feels good. If you are curious about what falling off the face of the planet is like I would not recommend it, its not a fun place and it's a pain in the ass to climb back up. Nonetheless, even though I had a bad time while I was gone from the sport of cycling, in retrospect it made me learn some really important lessons that I feel honored to know at such a young age. Have you ever talked to an old washed out individual and listened to their stories? Well I've got some similar stories to tell my kids one day now and I wouldn't take it back now even if I could.

Back to the edge of the earth however: nobody made me jump off the side, and no matter what anyone says my decision to explore the beyond spurred from a fascination of mine that I deemed worthy of the risk. There was lots of misguided thought about how people work and I started to think there was something wrong with me since I could not mentally understand exactly what each person I encountered was thinking and it was becoming too hard to keep everyone happy at any cost to my own personal happiness. I think the term for all this would be a bit of a people pleaser? Anyway, the more you try to please the more you loose yourself and what you really want out of life and in short I got totally lost.

I always liked riding, I liked the traveling, I liked the meeting new people, and I liked the people I was with. Cycling is essentially the perfect thing for me to do in terms of living a life that makes me happy. Quitting last year was horrible. I was living the dream and loving living the dream, but I just couldn't get the strange looks and questions about if this is really what I want to, or should be, doing out of my mind. I questioned myself and that was a huge mistake.

To make a long story short it wasn't until I started riding again that I really found myself once more. The Targetraining crew headed up by Greg Wolf, talked me into a bike ride at the beginning of May and I was hesitant to do it. I hadn't touched a bike or consistently exercised in a year! It was a beautiful day though and there was no question about whether or not I missed the feeling of riding a bike. I couldn't wipe the smile off my face. It was a perma-grin, the kind you see only once in a while when a person is loving that very moment.

Starting racing again was interesting seeing as the first race I showed up to was just two weeks later at the Joe Martin Stage Race. That's where I knew I had to do it again, and that's when I really started to get myself back on track - lets just say that's the day I quit smoking cigarettes! Its been a slow progression but the more and more I had faith in myself the more the world began to conspire in my favour.

The big break through for me was at U23 Time Trial Nationals this year. I had only been riding my bike for two and a half months at the time but I put my game face on and told myself that I was going to put everything I had into the race, what did I have to loose? My ride there was like a dream with Dave Towel legitimizing the worthiness of the test I was taking and announcing to the crowd at Seven Springs as I passed: "She's back!" That's right, I'm back and taking every step to keep it that way.

A couple weeks ago I made the best move of my life and got in touch with Michael Engelman and the USWCDP and now I am more certain than ever that I am doing the right thing. There is still a lot of work to do, and lots of tests to take, but the best thing of all is knowing that I can do it and have supporting people behind me all the way.

P.S. I'm psyched.